More information neccessary to boost product sales: Experts

Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 09:36

Customers choose vegetables at the Co.opmart Nguyen Dinh Chieu supermarket in HCM City. Experts have suggested companies provide customers with more product information to raise the competitiveness of farming goods. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu

HA NOI (Biz Hub)— Providing consumers with proper information about the products they buy could help raise the competitiveness of Vietnamese farming products, experts have suggested.

Speaking at a conference yesterday about strengthening the competitiveness of Vietnamese agricultural and aquaculture products, Nguyen Huu Dung, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporter and Producers, said that most Vietnamese companies lack awareness when it comes to transparency and the importance of providing their product information to customers.

"Taking advantages of information technology to provide customers with clear information about their products' origin is an effective means of raising their competitiveness," he said, noting that nowadays, consumers, especially foreign importers, care more and more about the origin of products.

However, many Vietnamese companies still hesitate in providing the public with detailed information because they think the move could make them weaker competitively.

Ha Cong Tuan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that although Viet Nam has prestigious manufacturers with production chains and products gaining certifications of Good Agriculture Practice or Best Aquaculture Practices, such information hardly reaches consumers at the right time or by the right means.

He gave an example, saying that in economic slowdown when consumers tended to tighten their spending, Vietnamese farming products, which are usually cheap, should have sold better. "However, in fact, our sales were dropping in some markets, Tra fish, for example, in EU markets," he said, blaming it on improper communication.

Dang Kim Son, head of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that with about 14 million small farming households, a synchronic problem of Viet Nam's agriculture lied with the complicated chains of agricultural material supply and product distribution.

He said farming materials such as fertiliser or animal feed had to go through many layers of agents to retailers and then to farmers. Similarly, finished products also have to pass through many wholesalers before reaching consumers.

"This makes farmers, exporters and consumers very confused about where a product originates from," he said, urging that a tracking process could benefit both producers and consumers.

Huynh Le Tam, a representative from the Global Competitiveness Facility for Vietnamese Enterprises (GCF), said that tracking the origin of products was an important step in food production in many countries, such as the EU and US, where verification of a product's origin was compulsory.

"If Vietnamese companies desire to have their products enter the global market, they need to facilitate a means for verifying the origin of products," she said.

Last year, the GCF, with support by the Danish International Development Agency (DID), funded a project to develop the electronic traceability and testing system called "Traceverified".

The system enables quick and simple access to product information at any point in the supply chain, from the production facility to the distribution system, the border inspection point, reception bays and outlets.

Even before product arrival, buyers can get information via PCs and determine whether the shipped goods comply with their requirements. It can produce a "TraceReport", accessible through any smart phone by scanning the barcode squares printed on the cartons.

Ly Hoang Hai, the project deputy director, explained that unlike conventional paper-based system, the electronic system provides data quickly and clearly, which helps consumers correctly understand what they have bought.

Presently, 12 Vietnamese companies involved in the export of fruit, shrimp and Tra fish to the EU and US have applied for the system. — VNS

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